It’s February, but guess what? It is still winter and it’s mega cold right now and I am in winter mood. That’s why after my tips on how to not get a cold now I’m sharing some easy tips on how to moisturize dry skin during winter.
Because having dry flaky skin during winter is horrible and I can cry a river about it.
I always had dry skin, not horribly dry, but my elbows were really rough and if I didn’t put any lotion my legs would look like cracked up earth. My skin just feels tight and looks kinda flaky.
In fact I went to the dermatologist a few months ago, because I was scared for my life with one mole (mole mole mole, Austin Powers) and she told me my skin is too dry. At that very moment I was freaking out about the mole and did not care if my skin was dry or not. I thought I wouldn’t be alive to rub lotion on it.
But after she told me everything was fine I went home and after saying some bad words about the doctor in my mind (and maybe out loud), I thought to myself – “Negative feedback is still a feedback.”
And then I went on a journey to moisturize my dry flaky skin and now I’m my own little expert.
Why dry skin is bad for health?
Not only does it not feel or look good, but dry skin can also represent an open door to all sorts of infections. The skin is part of the immune system and acts like a strong barrier between the outside world and the body. That barrier is the main thing that’s keeping us away from viruses and bacteria all the time.
Why do we get dry skin during winter?
It only makes sense to not have dry skin during winter – it’s cold, snowy, rainy, you can’t go to the beach and there’s no sunshine to dry out that skin. Turns out all that’s wrong!
The skin gets dry during winter because this is what we do (most of us):
- spend a lot of time indoors with the heating on
- don’t drink enough water and we don’t eat that many water-containing foods (show me a salad and I’m freezing)
- wear warm clothes that rub all the time on the skin
- skip moisturizing, because we’re cold
- take long hot showers
And also because the air during winter is cold and dry (go figure how all that rain and snow didn’t moisturize that air), but it’s the same reason influenza virus is more active.
How to moisturize your skin
Now I’ve been doing the following for a few months now and it works for me, even though the last month I haven’t been that consistent since we moved into a new place and skipped a lot of times step #1 and #3. Nevertheless my elbows are now much smoother and my skin is definitely not flaky.
Step #1: Hydrate from the inside
Yes, drink lots of water. You wouldn’t believe how much this has helped me.
Now I won’t be telling you water flushes out toxins and burns calories, because I don’t think it’s true.
You know what water does? It hydrates. And yes, this means your skin too, because when all of your body cells are hydrated, your skin is too.
So I guess my advice is: keep a big water bottle at your desk and drink. I now drink water probably every 20 minutes – it helps with all kinds of cravings and I feel like I have much more energy.
Also just because it’s winter don’t skip on the salads and smoothies.
This way you get some water from food as well + a ton of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. A good thing to remember is that fresh fruits and vegetables are our main source of vitamin C, which is important to build collagen and fight wrinkles. If you don’t eat fruits and vegetables, you might not be getting enough vitamin C and that would be a shame.
What not to drink
On the other hand drink no (or at least less) coffee (I know, hard) and alcohol because both of those are very dehydrating and it shows in your skin.
If you’ve ever drank too much coffee or alcohol you’d know how swollen, red and wrinkled-up your skin looks just a few hours after you’ve done it.
Hydration is not something we think about a lot and it kinda sounds boring (probably because it’s so simple!). After all it’s not as fascinating as turmeric having anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. But hydration is the foundation for life. Everything else comes as a next, as a bonus, not before hydration. I found this article on dehydration very interesting, must say I had many of the symptoms.
So make sure you drink your water and eat your fruits and vegetables even when it’s cold.
Step #2: Hygiene
As I mentioned, the skin acts as a barrier. The outermost layer of the skin (it has many of them) is responsible for that barrier function. That skin layer is made out of fats and dead skin cells (mmmmm yum).
When we take a shower and use soap, we scrub down those fats and dead skin cells. This makes it easier for water to escape from the skin cells, thus reducing moisture of the skin.
With a long hot shower + soap we also scrub down the bacteria that live on our skin. Yes, the skin has its own microbiome (bacteria) just like the gut and it’s also very important for health.
All these good bacteria keep away infections and bad bacteria from going to your skin and crapping all over your body causing skin problems (the bacteria p. acnes for example is associated with acne).
So what do we do? Should we not shower at all?
I’ve met a few people in my life who have told me they don’t take a shower at all.
The maintenance man who took care of the lab building where I was doing my diploma for example. He said during summer he only takes a napkin and wipes his body. Yes, it is gross. And he didn’t smell like roses.
So no we don’t stop taking showers.
We just take shorter showers and don’t use soap.
Now hear me out on that last one. I know there are people who work in the fields and who sweat all day long. But since I’m writing this and you’re reading this, I assume it’s not the case for neither one of us.
So if you’re not dirty or seriously sweaty and stinky, don’t use soap! If you are – do it, but in reasonable amounts and in the right places.
As for the hands – wash them always with soap, because we might touch other bacteria as well and we don’t want to get them into our systems.
Step #3: Fats
So since the outermost layer of the skin is made out of fats, let’s give it some fat.
Not necessarily from the inside, but from the outside. While eating too much fat might not be super beneficial for your health, on your skin fats can do great things. Especially the fats in coconut oil.
Coconut oil contains mainly saturated fats that absorb quickly and keep hydration in the skin (the opposite of what a long hot shower does).
I hated on coconut oil for such a long time, because people were always talking about it and “pouring it over their lives”.
What’s the big deal?
Well once I tried it, I know it is a big deal. At least for your skin.
After I apply coconut oil my skin gets softer and smoother and my elbows don’t feel to the touch like sandpaper. What an upgrade.
Coconut oil on the skin is also like a protective layer against the dry winter air and the constant rubbing of winter clothes to the skin. This means – you not only add benefit, you also minimize harm (my favorite kind of benefit).
I don’t mix the coconut oil it with anything else, because I’m lazy.
What I do is, I shove my hands into the jar and scoop out a piece of coconut oil and just rub it on my skin – that simple! It melts quickly and doesn’t leave residues.
Now in my mind this whole process takes about 3 hours. In reality – 2 minutes.
So don’t skip that part and use coconut oil every single time after you’ve taken a shower.
One thing I find funny about using coconut oil on my face is that whenever I go out and it’s freezing I can feel how my eyebrows get stiff. That’s because of the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil – they get hard at lower temperatures.
Why I recommend this
Now, I am not telling you to use coconut oil, because I’m in an affiliate program with it and note I’m not linking to anything. It’s because coconut oil for your skin is awesome.
I am also not saying use coconut oil instead of lotions and body butters, because it’s natural and everything else is full of poison. Well it might be, but seriously how natural can anything be anymore? And how guarded from toxins can you actually be in the world today?
It’s just my experience that coconut oil lasts longer and my skin doesn’t feel dry again within 1 hour after applying it.
Organic or Not
Whether or not virgin organic coconut oil is better – I can’t tell you. I use organic virgin coconut oil, because it smells good. The refined one doesn’t smell like anything, which doesn’t make it a bad for your skin.
Due to dry winter air, dehydration and bad nutrition you can get dry skin during winter. This is what you need to do:
- Hydrate from the inside
- Keep your showering and bathing time short and not too warm
- Get some fats from the outside
Try this for a few weeks if you have dry skin and let me know how it goes! The important thing is to do it every day.